Durant's big third quarter helps Warriors sink Spurs
SAN ANTONIO -- Kevin Durant scored 33 points, 19 of them in the decisive third quarter, and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Golden State Warriors easily dispatched the San Antonio Spurs 120-108 on Saturday in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at the AT&T Center.
The Warriors lead 3-0 in the best-of-seven series with Game 4, a potential clincher for Golden State, set for Monday in San Antonio. No NBA team has ever come back to win a series after losing the first three games.
San Antonio trailed by nine points at the half and got as close as 69-65 two minutes into the third quarter before Golden State took charge with its superior firepower and unselfish play. By the middle of the fourth quarter, the Spurs were just worn out, settling for shots early in possessions and missing most of them while the Warriors rebuilt an 18-point lead.
The Spurs' hopes to get back in this series were severely damaged earlier on Saturday when the team announced that star forward Kawhi Leonard would not play in Game 3 because of his sprained left ankle, which was originally injured in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets and reinjured in Game 1 of this series.
Stephen Curry added 21 points and six steals for the Warriors, who are now a perfect 11-0 in the postseason and have won 26 of their past 27 games.
Klay Thompson had 17 points, JaVale McGee hit for 16 (all in the first half) and Draymond Green tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as all five of Golden State's starters scored in double figures. The Warriors outshot San Antonio 54.8 percent to 47.3 percent from the floor.
The Spurs got 21 points from the ageless Manu Ginobili, who hit 7 of 9 shots from the field, and 18 points from LaMarcus Aldridge. Jonathon Simmons added 14 points, and Pau Gasol contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio.
The Spurs took a 26-25 lead on a 3-pointer by Patty Mills late in the first quarter and expanded it to 33-27 with 1.1 seconds to play on two free throws by Ginobili. The Warriors stole the final points of the quarter and a little of the momentum when David West threw an end-to-end pass to Ian Clark, who caught the ball underneath the Spurs' basket and laid it in as the horn sounded, bringing Golden State back to 33-29 at the quarter break.
Golden State surged back into the lead in the middle of the second quarter, building a 61-49 advantage with 1:28 remaining while holding the Spurs scoreless for more than three minutes. San Antonio cut the lead to 61-55 on a free throw and a basket by Ginobili and a put-back by Aldridge but West canned a 3-pointer with 10.9 seconds left in the half to grant the Warriors a 64-55 lead at intermission.
McGee led the Warriors with 16 points in the half while Ginobili paced the Spurs with 13 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor.
Durant caught fire in the third quarter, scoring 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting, as the Warriors built as much as an 18-point lead before settling for a 100-88 advantage through three quarters. Golden State shot 60 percent in the period (12 of 20) but allowed San Antonio some hope when it committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions.
Spurs reserve forward David Lee was forced from the game with a hyperextended left knee at the 2:57 mark of the first quarter while hitting a layup and being fouled. Lee went straight to the San Antonio locker room and was not able to return to shoot the free throw he earned, meaning he could not return to the game.
NOTES: San Antonio won 33 consecutive home games against the Warriors from the start of the 1997-98 season up until April 10, 2016, when it dropped a 92-86 decision to Golden State for its only home loss on the 2015-16 season. During that stretch, the Spurs posted a 57-13 record against the Warriors. ... In Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, the Warriors dished out a franchise-record 23 assists in the first half on the way to a 2017 playoff-high 39, one shy of the team playoff record. ... San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich served as an assistant for the Warriors under Don Nelson's staff from 1992-93 through the 1994-95 season. ... Warriors coach Steve Kerr had two playing stints with San Antonio, appearing in 131 games while averaging 3.5 points from 1998-2001 and in 75 games during the 2002-03 season while helping lead the Spurs to their second NBA championship.